Introduction to Visual Arts
4 June 2012
Reclining Nude The artwork is called Reclining Nude by Jean-Antoine Watteau and I found this artwork in the Norton Simon Museum. I was captivated by the sensuality and the delicacy in the painting. I first noticed in the painting was her robust ivory figure contrasting with the dark chocolate background because I felt that these contrasting colors evoked a sense of purity and light against the mysterious darkness. She seems to have turned around and noticed something. Perhaps someone just entered the room and surprised her or she could have been waiting for her lover. I also noticed that in this painting, that there are only three objects: the bed, the girl, and the dark background. This painting seemed so simple to me and yet I felt there was so much more to it. What was it about her that was so special? Why was she painted? These thoughts whirled in my head as I looked at this masterpiece. I studied this painting’s importance by researching the important formal elements that composed this artwork such as color and light, the historical context in which the artwork was made, and Watteau’s intent for this artwork. These factors have contributed in the Reclining Nude’s significance not only for me, but in art history.
I first analyzed the usage of the formal elements-the color and shape- and Watteau’s skill sets in the Reclining Nude. The woman’s “creamy pink flesh is wonderfully warm and sensuous against the ivory-white of the bedclothes and the dark, chocolate-brown of the background” (Posner 385). The creamy color adds life to the woman and distinguishes her from the pale white bed sheets, thus giving the effect that her skin has “a marvelous translucency” (Posner 385). The translucency of her skin could possibly imply her innocence and purity. The rosy blush gives the young girl a sense of modesty that even though she might be alone and lying comfortably on her bed; she is aware of her nudity.